Our Story

Over a Decade of Feeding Hungry Kids

Rooted in family, community, and empathy, Backpack Buddies is a grassroots organization with a big vision to feed hungry kids across BC.

Where It All Began


In 2012, mother-daughter duo, Joanne and Emily-anne were confronted with the reality of childhood hunger in their own community. In particular, they learned about the “weekend hunger gap” — when kids who normally rely on school-day meal programs suffer in silence over the weekends when meal support is scarce.

Joanne and Emily-anne engaged local schools, donors, and volunteers. In September 2012, Backpack Buddies made its first delivery of 20 bags of food to hungry children at a school in East Vancouver.

Today, our team at Backpack Buddies supports over 5,000 hungry children every week by collaborating with educators, administrators, social workers and other non-profits. In 2022/23 school year, we delivered over 1.25 million meals to children in 63 communities across BC.

How We Help

Childhood hunger and food insecurity are realities for kids in every corner of our province. Kids who depend on school meal programs for regular meals, often suffer in silence over the weekends when meal support is scarce. Every bag of food from Backpack Buddies provides a child with meals and snacks to last them the weekend and beyond.

We Partner With Schools

Our weekly food deliveries are coordinated in partnership with teachers and administrators. They advise us on the needs of their students and discreetly refer children who will benefit most from receiving a bag of food for the weekend.

We Leverage Purchasing Power

To serve over 5,000 children across BC each week, we leverage our significant purchasing power with distributors to stretch every dollar. Every week, we feed as many kids as possible.

We Feed Hungry Kids

Every bag of food we deliver is filled with meals and snacks to last the weekend and beyond. Each item in our bags is kid-approved and ready-to-eat, featuring items like hummus, tuna snacks, seaweed and fresh fruits and veggies.

From Our Community

For years, we’ve saved notes from families, educators, donors and volunteers about the impact a bag of food on Fridays has made for a kid and their family.

    “I’m grateful that you feed my children when I can’t.”



    “This little bit of stability—this little bit of certainty—has helped us get through these difficult years. Thank you.”



    “Knowing that I have Backpack Buddies coming every weekend takes away so much stress. I know I’m not going to starve. My kids aren’t going to starve. I don’t have to worry or fight to make sure my kids are fed.”



    “It helps me feel secure knowing that I don’t have to worry about my kids so much. I know that the school and Backpack Buddies are going to provide regular snacks and staples, so I’m not stranded with empty cupboards.”


    Sunshine Coast

Our Team

They say teamwork makes the dream work and in our case, it’s absolutely true. Meet the team at Backpack Buddies that works hard every day to feed hungry kids across BC.

Emily-anne King

Co-Founder and Executive Director

After years of working in the for-profit sector, Emily-anne made the switch to the charitable sector and founded Backpack Buddies in 2012 with her mom, Joanne. Backpack Buddies started off with the duo dropping off bags of food every Friday to a dozen students at an East Vancouver elementary school. Today, Emily-anne leads a team that reaches over 5,000 hungry children every week across BC. Emily-anne believes that every child should know where their next meal will come from and passionately engages donors, volunteers and other champions to join the cause. Together with the Backpack Buddies team, she is passionate about serving local communities and believes we can all make an impact in the neighbourhood we live in. Emily-anne and her husband are parents to two little kids and call North Vancouver home.

Joanne Griffiths

Co-Founder and Director of Strategic Partnerships

Joanne has devoted her life to the betterment of children’s lives. She has been involved in community projects most of her professional career and is a founding member of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. In 2012, Joanne and her daughter, Emily-anne ,discovered the need of children from inner-city schools for food on weekends. Joanne recruited the school that her children had attended in West Vancouver to help fundraise and pack Backpack Buddies’ first 20 bags of food in the spring of 2012. Joanne’s passion is her children and grandchildren. She enjoys spending time outside with them and walking her dog, Lucca, who has now become the Backpack Buddies mascot and can often be seen riding shotgun with Joanne in the Backpack Buddies’ truck.

Lorraine Winchester


Lorraine spent most of her career in print media and marketing, leading program and production teams. After 26 years, Lorraine decided to make a move to the non-profit sector and found her skill set and qualifications perfectly matched an opportunity available with Backpack Buddies. She is passionate about serving our communities and is the proud mom of two amazing daughters. Lorraine couldn’t be happier to be part of the amazing Backpack Buddies team!

Jeremy Hunka


Jeremy Hunka joined Backpack Buddies after years as a journalist and homeless advocate. He is a former television reporter for outlets like Global BC, Global Calgary, and CTV Winnipeg. He has been lucky enough to travel the globe on assignment for Global National, or in partnership with charities like Save the Children and Samaritan’s Purse. He most recently dedicated 5 years to serving in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and now focuses on rallying the public around the Backpack Buddies’ cause. For all media inquiries, please connect with Jeremy directly.

Pat Jenkins


Born and raised on the North Shore and previously working in the Parks and Recreation department for various government municipalities, Pat has always had a passion for the outdoors. When he learned about Backpack Buddies, he jumped at the opportunity to help make a positive difference in the community he grew up in. As the Warehouse & Transportation Manager, you can find Pat stocking shelves, working with school and community partners, and on the road, making deliveries. Getting to see the impact he is having first hand, and the smiles on children’s faces, is the most rewarding part for Pat. In his off time, Pat enjoys attending music festivals and sitting in the Southside at Whitecaps games.

Tara-Kelly Andrews


Bio coming soon.

Kristoffer Fransson


Kristoffer, or Kif as he’s known by many, was born in Sweden but raised on the North Shore. Since completing his business degree, he worked in several roles in different sectors before landing his job at Backpack Buddies. Kristoffer feels lucky that he has the opportunity to create a role for himself within the organization. You will find him working all over the warehouse, on the road in the new truck, or behind a computer screen making sure everything goes smoothly in the warehouse and bag processes. What motivates Kristoffer is knowing the hard work they all do at the Backpack Buddies really makes a difference in the community.

Laara Losier


With nearly 15 years as a fundraiser, event planner and volunteer coordinator in the charitable sector, Laara jumped at the chance to help fight child hunger as a Program Coordinator with Backpack Buddies. You can find her stocking shelves, packing bags alongside volunteers or working with schools and partners at the Victoria warehouse.

Diane de Jong


Diane was born and raised on beautiful Vancouver Island where she currently resides. She has a variety of experience in dealing with the public while working on construction sites and managing traffic control with BC Ferries. Diane loves the slower pace of life in the Port Hardy area. Her passion for helping others and her dedication to the local community is what inspires her to be involved with Backpack Buddies.

Jamie McCracken


Coming Soon.

Lindsay Burke


Coming Soon.

Tanya Barrie


Coming Soon.



We know that it takes trust to partner with an organization. Meet the people that hold us accountable to the highest levels of integrity and explore our reporting to see it for yourself.

  • Meet our Board of Directors
  • Explore our Annual Reports
  • Read our Financial Statements

Our Partners

We gratefully partner with donors, foundations, and businesses every year who are passionate about feeding hungry kids in their communities. Meet our generous change makers, champions and friends who make this work possible.

Meet Our Partners

Make a Difference Today

Feed Hungry Kids

Join us as a donor. Pack bags as a volunteer. Get your company connected. Whatever you do, when you get involved with Backpack Buddies, you will be putting hope back on the table for hungry kids across BC.

Get Involved

There are lots of ways to get involved with Backpack Buddies. Join us and explore how you can make a difference in the lives of hungry kids in your own community and across BC.

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Donate to Backpack Buddies

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